Web Analytics Power! Turning Data into Dollars

SES Toronto 2009 Logo

Web analytics data provides an abundance of insight that can ultimately increase revenue for a company. The problem is many aren’t up to the task of deciphering the metrics to really understand making associated reports pay. Today’s  SES Toronto session titled “Analytics for Search: ROI, Engagement, Attribution, and More” was just loaded, with a great panel which shared many actionable recommendations to attendees.

sestoronto_mapleleafModerating the session was SearchEngineStrategies Advisory Board & Principal Andrew Goodman (Page Zero Media).  Speaking on the panel were Richard Zwicky (Enquisite), Anne Marie Lorriman (Outrider), June Li (ClickInsight) & Bryan Eisenberg (Future Now, Inc.).

First to take the podium was Bryan Eisenberg. His presentation will cover major issues in web analytics at a high level. He reminisces of at time when tracking analytics meant using log files and parsing them in excel. It was a very painful time in the late 90’s. The main goal of analytics has always been the same, to gather an idea of if we have achieved success? Are we winning the game?

These days a lot of people are talking about attribution. Attribution is a tricky thing; you’re probably getting bias answers. Google has been found to be over-reporting search visits. Attribution is a critical thing. What keyword was actually responsible for the conversion? So many time a user will begin their purchase process by looking for information on the product or service with a particular keyword or phrase. Further down the buying process they may enter a completely different phrase to get back to the site and complete the purchase.

Bryan gives the example of being the parent of a kid on a basket ball team. The first player checks the ball in, the second passes down the lane, the third sets up a pass to your child who dishes the ball to center where the player dunks. As the parent of the child, who do you want to give credit to? Who deserves credit for the score? In the game, the guy who dunks gets the credit. The goal of attribution is to identify the assists in the buying process. He shares an example of a client who found a keyword that wasn’t converting and cut it off. After that sales dropped 30%, because it was a crucial keyword in converting further back in the buying process.


What do we need to know?
Google likes to report on the last click or the person that last touched the ball. There has to be a solution that will show you the all time conversion process.  The objective is to get a better idea of the visitors needs and addressing it. Once you do that you can begin correlating what works and what doesn’t.

Problem with People Using Analytics
Astonishingly, out of 79% of people gathering information on their site, only 30% make the changes needed to garner better results. So many people suffer from “data diarrhea,” they find it easier to discard the information then to make the changes. People are forgetting to do the basics of analytics, hoping they can toss the ball all the way down the court and get that 360 dunk right away. You need to figure out how to make changes on the turn of a dime, every single day. Companies that can do this are the ones that are most successful.

What is the Secret?
Have a continuous improvement process. You need to have the ongoing process. The companies that have had success were the ones that made small steps to improve the site continuously (Dell, Intuit, Walmart, Xerox). Ask what do  you need in order to have an organization set up for marketing optimization

3 Key resources
1st – People
Marketing (the ones in charge of making business decisions), analysts (can point you to challenging areas that need to be addressed and areas of opportunity), graphic design, copywriter, creative resources, & a little bit of technical

2nd – A Process
Identify who you’re trying to talk to, what action you want them to take & what they need to take that action?

3rd – Tools
The analytics information you used to have to pay for in the past is free today. Get good at free before you go out and purchase a big analytics package.

Increasing conversion is like compounding interest in a bank.  If you improve conversion every month by 3% over the course of a year you will have improved your conversion rate by 42%.

Next up was June Li. She begins by stating that converting data to dollars is what we want. If you don’t have money in the bank, you’re missing the bottom line. She breaks her presentation into suggestions for those that extract analytic reports themselves and those that will need to ask a team for reports and changes.

Data and reports don’t make you money you have to take that information and analyze it.

Data to dollars Conversion Funnel
Collect Data & Reports -> Ask Questions -> Segmentation Analysis -> Take Action -> $$$

It’s important to realize you are the person that makes the data meaningful, not the tools. Hammers and nails don’t build houses people do. The same is true with web analytics tools. Get in on the web design early in the process. All too often the campaign is set up and running and then the team will call for SEO and SEM. If you’re able to be there from the design conception, address what extra tagging or scripting will be necessary and define goals for the future performance of the site.

Once you have the data, now you need to segment. Ask yourself what is different between those that are converting and those that aren’t.

Drive segmentation with questions as simple as what’s working & what’s not working? Do more of what is working and do less of what’s not working. Look at how visitors are converting and compare that to those that aren’t. That sounds easy enough.

Analyze the data and fix the right problem. What you want is a de-bottle necked funnel with good persuasion and good conversion. Sub-optimial conversion can result from – un-targeted promotion attracting the wrong people – good targeting persuasion ineffective conversion – good persuasion through the purchase funnel, but people are leaving right before conversion.

Drive Action with Analysis
Work backwards from the “conversion” or “value event”
– Are there sources that drive more conversions
– What are the keyword or phrases that drive more traffic, what does that tell you about audience you are tracking.
What days of the week have higher conversions
What content did those that converted access (pages, downloads, etc.)

If there’s NO ACTION, there’s NO DOLLARS. You have to take action. Get in on the design process!

Andrew goodman – do what you can with the free tools. Custom advanced segments on each page, Google analytics is getting better.

Next to bat was Anne Marie Lorriman. Her presentation focused on what happens when paid targeting fails and how to diagnose and prescribe a remedy. It all starts with targeting the right keywords.

Issues to Diagnose
1 – Offside search result
2 – Hidden defect search result

Offside Search Result
She asks the audience, what does “sonic” mean to you? The problem is this word can have several different products associated with it – DVD publishing company, brand of tooth brush, a restaurant or a video game character. Keywords will inevitably mean different things to different people. You have to regularly go back and review your how keywords are being targeted in your campaign.

Say your trying to target the keyword “car” in the context of a purchase (ie. “buying a car”). Broad match is not a bad strategy but it requires appropriate attention.  The keyword “car” has several different contexts in which people search for it, buying, repairing, selling, etc.  Without filtering out these different irrelevant contexts you’re campaigns may fair poorly. Incorporate negative keywords into your campaigns to drive down high impressions and low click through, thereby increasing your quality score. Negative keywords may reduce the amount of ad impressions, but ultimately your click through rate (CTR) will increase as you hone in on what your targeted audience is looking for.

Step 1: run a search query report
Step 2: analyze the report and create negative keywords for those that are not applicable

Hidden Defect Search Result
After filling your offside prescription, look back at your search query report for each campaign to discover the hidden defect search result. Although you may have honed in on the intention of the search, the spider doesn’t realize “car” to be the same thing as “automobile,” this can drive down quality score because of low query relevance. Separate each keyword into their own campaigns: vehicle, car, automobile and auto into their own campaign. Fill these different campaigns with negative keywords of the existing campaign keyword names.

Last to take the podium was Richard Zwicky. He makes note that although we as search marketers know what the marketplace looks like as to paid and organic, it’s astonishing how many customers out there do not. Looking at how most individuals spend time in the search engine result pages (SERPs), you find that there is very strong focus on organic results. How strong? It’s been reported that 88% of traffic from SERPs is through organic listings. Is an organic refferal worth as much as paid referral?  The problem is that it’s much easier to assign a value to paid rather than organic because paid can be directly tied to keywords and other metrics.

Advertising spend in the past year on organic was $1.4 billion, yet accounted for 88% of traffic. Paid advertising on the other hand had a $39 billion piece of total ad spend and only accounted for 12% of traffic. Organic provides so much value but because it’s difficult to track, it’s often overlooked.

There are countless actions to take in order to gain your share of the organic pie. Richard lays out some very specific things to consider. If you want to be recognized for the specific geographical location your company serves, you need to focus on links that reflect that location. If you don’t segment out value, you’ll never see your opportunities. Keep thinking about how you can move placement for keywords. Keep striving to identify what you’ve missed and what else is out there that can drive value to your business.

Analytic data can seem complex and daunting at times, but it’s ability to effect the bottom line makes it an area of search that can’t be overlooked.

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